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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 12/11/2008

Celeb Psychology 101: Just What the Doctor Ordered

By Liz Kelly

Ready for a daily dose of celebrity mental health news?

Teetering celebs have been the subject of much discussion here. Along with candid photos snapped by invasive paps, news of erratic celebrity behavior has become a staple of the gossip blogosphere.

We watch, fascinated, as Amy Winehouse morphs from the next big thing into trainwreck of the year; we scrutinize Britney Spears's every move for signs of a slip back to her head-shaving, British accented bizarro Britney persona; David Hasselhoff's drunken home videos go viral; and when Pam Anderson shows up at a high profile event pantsless and with a somewhat rabid cast to the eyes, well, one does wonder if she is channeling Anna Nicole Smith.

And, quite rightly, Psych Central, has launched the brand new Celebrity Psychings -- a blog dedicated to monitoring celebrity mental health issues with the hope that we can all actually learn a thing or two while we're busy schadenfreude-ing our way through the day's headlines.

Writes Psychings blogger Alicia Sparks:

I am not interested in exposing anyone, or glamorizing mental illness. I value privacy. My goal with Celebrity Psychings is to help educate readers about the mental health issues they hear about in the media -- whether it’s celebrities, entertainment, or news -- and say to folks, "Hey, look at that. You’re not alone. You're not doomed. And you're not crazy."

If scrutinizing a drunken David Hasselhoff can actually do some good, sign me up. A closer look at celebs and mental health is probably long overdue. Last week's Britney Spears documentary on MTV was especially disheartening and, for followers of celeb news, disquieting. We want to snark, but it isn't much fun snarking at someone who describes her day-to-day life as a joyless prison -- celebrity or not.

But let's not get too serious here. Sometimes the quickest route to sanity is a good laugh.

By Liz Kelly  | December 11, 2008; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities  
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Comments

You mean I'm not crazy if tomorrow I decide I want to adopt 4 new kids and move to central Africa?

Ok, forget the adoptions. What if I just marry my gold-digging, white-trash baby daddy whose current girlfriend is about to give birth? That will turn out ok don't you think?

I'm ok, you're ok.

Posted by: hodie | December 11, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Celebrities have too much money to be just plain crazy. They are eccentrics. Head shaving is just a form of self-expression for them. For the rest of us, it is a call for help.

Posted by: epjd | December 11, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I completely agree* with Ms. Sparks when she says, "Hey, look at that. You’re not alone. You're not doomed. And you're not crazy."


*Except that in the end we -are- alone, we -are- doomed, and some of us might very well be absolutely full-on Sgt.-Dreyfus-in-the-last-scene-in-The-Return-Of-The-Pink-Panther batsh*t crazy.

Posted by: byoolin1 | December 11, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Actually most superstars do score very highly in areas of Narcissism (wow what a suprise) and borderline personalities when they take personality tests. These types of personalities seen much more likely to suffer mental illness such as addiction, depression and eating d/o. Look how many we can rattle off the tops of our heads who are Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. If you're not famous, you're probably not crazy enough.

Posted by: hodie | December 11, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Just because I'm plain mean and am still feeling the effects of last night's (over???)indulgence, I say we prescribe electric shock therapy to the whole lot of them. I'm sure after a few thousand volts, they'll feel much better...

or be totally fried...

it's a win-win situation here. Think about it!

Posted by: brutal | December 11, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

So, the next time a friend or loved one confides in anguish that he (or she) or even worse, his or her teen aged daughter has been diagnosed with a mood disorder, I can say, "Hey, don't worry, you're not alone! I was reading about that very disorder on Psych Central! There are at least five Hollywood starlets with the same diagnosis!"

Posted by: 44west | December 11, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Actually most superstars do score very highly in areas of Narcissism....

Posted by: hodie | December 11, 2008 12:48 PM

Narcissism is Oprah's middle name.

Posted by: jezebel3 | December 11, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Celebrities have too much money to be just plain crazy. They are eccentrics. Head shaving is just a form of self-expression for them. For the rest of us, it is a call for help.
-------------------------------

Yes, because money fixes all known problems, up to and including inherited neurochemical imbalances.

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | December 11, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

OK, I'm recusing myself from the snark today, because I'm going to take it all too seriously. It is nice though to have another person working to destigmatize mental illnesses; it might make it easier to say, for example, "I'm being treated for bipolar disorder" if people can say, "Oh, like Carrie Fisher, well she seems pretty successful and not crazy".

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | December 11, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I would give Pam Anderson a pass (trashiness and all). She always seems pretty lucid in interviews and doesn't take herself too seriously (e.g., Borat). For someone whose main "assets" have been surgically provided, she's been able to keep herself in the limelight long past when her fame should have diminished.

Posted by: kvs09 | December 11, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

If we renamed mental illnesses after their celebrity counterparts, perhaps society would be somewhat more compassionate to the sick.

"Poor Jim, he's gone a little Gary Busey lately."

Posted by: MStreet1 | December 11, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I can identify and feel for celebrities who have problems only when they seek out help and/or acknowledge the problem and have a desire to make it better.
I do not feel sorry for them when they cry "poor me, pity me." Especially when they have the means and ability to find help, but reject it or lash out at those who genuinely want them to be better. I understand when people don't think rationally during episodes - hell, I've been there - but that doesn't seem to be the problem with most of the drain-circling trainwrecks we witness on a daily basis. The celebs I respect are the ones who acknowledge the problem, deal with it (preferably without fanfare), and come out the other side even better than before (Carrie Fischer, Drew Barrymore, Ashley Judd, etc).

Posted by: eet7e | December 11, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

The celebs I respect are the ones who acknowledge the problem, deal with it (preferably without fanfare), and come out the other side even better than before (Carrie Fischer, Drew Barrymore, Ashley Judd, etc).

---------------------------------

/stands, applauds
I guess that's the real measure; whether they acknowledge and work with their illness, or use it as an excuse to be jerkfaces (and celebs have so many great public opportunities to be jerkfaces...) And you're right about "drain-circling trainwrecks"; I can't think of a possible diagnosis that would exculpate, say, Amy Winehouse for the s(%& she's been pulling.

On a much less serious topic, I would pay a great deal of money for a WinehouseCam. Imagine what we'd see in 24 hours! I'm sure somebody could weave some fiberoptics into that beehive.

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | December 11, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Top Ten Images from Bawlmer's WinehouseCam:

10: Toilet bowl.
9: Ceiling.
8: Floor in kitchen, as seen at a 90-degree angle from a height of 0".
7: Paparazzi's flashbulbs.
6: Drawer full of ruined fishnet stockings.
5: Tattoo on own left arm, partly obscured by vomit.
4: Re-run of "Strictly Come Dancing".
3: Scale model of The Sphinx made from empty Stoli bottles.
2: Kitchen sink, as seen from kitchen window immediately above it.
1: Postcard from Blake Civil-Somebody.

Posted by: byoolin1 | December 11, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Way later to the party, but I cannot believe no one has mentioned Jeff Conaway. He is a 24-hour cable channel in and of itself.

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | December 11, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Making fun of crazy celebs is a time-honored tradition. Tom Cruise's couch-jumping, Marilyn Monroe's depression, Howard Hughes. Then there are people who are celebs because they are crazy: the woman behind "3 Faces of Eve," numerous serial killers, Idi Amin, Ivan the Terrible, etc.

Posted by: reddragon1 | December 12, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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